Spiti Valley Tour via Kinnaur (9N/10D Road Trip)

Our post-summer expeditions to Spiti Valley include two of the least explored and most interesting regions of Himachal Pradesh. First is Spiti Valley, one of the most beautiful valleys in Lahaul-Spiti district, it is a frontier valley of the state.

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Spiti Valley Tour via Kinnaur (9N/10D Road Trip)

Spiti Valley Tour Dates: October 23 – November 01, 2020 

Our winter drive expeditions to Spiti Valley include two of the least explored and most interesting regions of Himachal Pradesh. First is Spiti Valley, one of the most beautiful valleys in Lahaul-Spiti district, it is a frontier valley of the state. Another frontier district along the Indo-Tibet border is Kinnaur. Barring Hangrang valley, the climate of Kinnaur district is quite different from that of the cold and barren desert climate of Spiti Valley. 

Spiti, a place so peaceful that you hear yourself breathe, a sky so clear that you can see a million stars and Milky Way at night, a land so unspoiled that you can clearly see traces of Tethys sea and people living in these inhospitable conditions are so amazing and welcoming that will leave you speechless. 

Kinnaur and Spiti valley, the two unique geographical and cultural units of the Himachal Pradesh, are located in the trans-Himalayan ranges. The route to Spiti from Manali takes travelers over two high mountain passes of the greater Himalayan range – one Rohtang Pass (3700 m), second Kunzum Pass (4500 m). 

The route we would follow is via Shimla that takes you through thick pine and deodar forests of Narkanda and rickety roads of Kinnaur district along the Sutlej River. We would take a detour just before Rampur Bushahr (a town and erstwhile capital of Bushahr dynasty) to Baga Sarahan, a vast meadow and a quintessential Himalayan village located in the outer Siraj valley of Kullu district. The route from Shimla mostly follows the old Hindustan-Tibet road until Sumdo ITBP checkpost. Sumdo is connected to Kaza – the district HQ of Lahaul and Spiti, through NH 505. 

Spiti, in comparison to Kinnaur, is situated higher in elevation. Its rugged, treacherous, and inhospitable climate is compensated by grandeur & beauty of vast valleys, meandering Spiti river, beautiful Martian landscapes and towering peaks of the trans-Himalayan ranges. 

The weather of Spiti Valley starts to turn bitingly cold from mid-September month. The Spiti riverbed turns into ice at places during the nights in October month. The rainfall is scanty as the whole region lies in the rain shadow zone of the greater Himalayan range. The crispy air and cloudless skies offer a perfect setting for photographers and travelers alike.    

Spiti Valley Tour Detailed Itinerary (9N/10D)

Day 1

Reach Narkanda
Arrive at Narkanda from your home town/city. Narkanda is a gateway into the apple valley of Himachal Pradesh. We start getting glimpses of the road which most of us have seen circulated on the net, this is the beginning of our journey into the upper hills of Himachal. This is the start of treacherous but beautiful roads. Even though the distance is less than 100 kms, it takes 3 hours to reach Narkanda from Shimla.

Day 2

Narkanda – Baga Sarahan

In this first leg of the Spiti Valley Tour, we drive through the thickly forested ridges of Narkanda (kanda in the local dialect translates to a high place of a mountaintop in English). The drive will be smooth until Duttnagar – a small town on NH 05 just before Rampur Bushahr. A single lane road connects Duttnagar to Baga Sarahan. Nirmand village We will pause the drive at Nirmand village and have lunch. Nirmand to Bagipul road is well-built and the drive will be without nasty bumps or jerks. Driving on Bagipul-Baga Sarahan road will be the first test of your driving skills. The road is tarred and the incline is quite steep on some stretches.

Day 3

Baga Sarahan – Sangla

After breakfast, we resume the drive and return back to Bagipul through the same winding and grinding road. We continue the drive towards Nirmand and get back to the diverging point on NH 05. From there, we drive towards Karcham village of Kinnaur – the gateway to Sangla valley. Karcham bridge is the only crossover connecting Baspa or Sangla Valley to the rest of the world. 

After crossing the Karcham Bridge, the route ascends up and moves eastward along the Baspa River. We reach Sangla town by the evening and check into a hotel or campsite.

Day 4

Sangla – Nako
Our longest drivetime will be clocked on Day 4 covering a distance of around 180 km in 6-7 hours. Starting from Sangla in Baspa Valley and ending at Nako in the Hangrang valley of Kinnaur, we will drive back from Sangla to Karcham on the previous day route and Karcham to Khab on NH 05 along the Sutlej River.  Khab is a deep gorge and confluence point of the Spiti and Sutlej Rivers. From there, we crossover the Sutlej River to head northwest, and climb up the Ka loops — a long winding stretch named after Ka village.

We will stop at Nako for an overnight stay. Nako village is located near the Indo-Tibet border in the Hangrang valley of Kinnaur district. 

Day 5

Nako – Kaza
On day 5, we head to Kaza, the district headquarter of Lahaul and Spiti. By 10:00 AM, we start the drive and after driving for about 3 hours, we reach Tabo village. We make a pit stop at Tabo to visit a 1000-year-old Tabo Monastery — also known as the Ajanta of the Himalayas. We resume the journey and drive along the Spiti River.  At Dhankar, we halt again to witness another ancient gompa (monastery) perched atop a ridge. After exploring the monastery and Dhankar village, we head to Kaza and reach Kaza town by the evening.

Day 6 & 7

Kaza (Exploring places around Kaza) 

We spend two full days exploring and adoring tiny hamlets and monasteries, meeting local people, and capturing moments in and around Kaza town. Some of the Instagram-worthy places around Kaza are Tangyud Monastery, Key (also spelled as Ki) Monastery, the Kibber village, the Komic village, the Gete village, and Langza village – known for marine fossils.

Day 8

Kaza – Kalpa (Return journey)
Day 8 will be a long journey on the same route connecting Spiti Valley to Kinnaur. We will be driving back to Kalpa village. As it will be a long drive, starting early would get us to Kalpa by the evening.

Day 9

Kalpa – Narkanda
After spending days full of adventure and life in Spiti Valley and Kinnaur, we will be heading back to where we started our journey – Narkanda. Day 9 will mark the end of the Spiti Valley Tour. On the way back, we would capture scenic beauties we might have missed while on Day 1 and 2. We reach Narkanda by the evening for an overnight stay at a hotel.

Day 10

This is the end of our beautiful tour and roads of Himachal Pradesh, which go spiralling through apple orchards, green fields and thick deodar forests. After breakfast, we start off to our homes with a million unforgettable memories.

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